A court sentenced a 28-year-old man to four years in prison Thursday for abducting and confining a nurse who was later found dead in central Japan.
The Hamamatsu branch of the Shizuoka District Court ruled that Motoki Ito, in conspiracy with two other men he became acquainted with online, abducted Mayuko Uchiyama, 29, at a parking lot outside a fitness gym in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, on May 26 and kept her confined until early morning the next day.
Uchiyama’s body was found buried in a mountainous area in the Shizuoka city of Fujieda on June 9. Neither Ito nor Mitsuru Suzuki, one of the two accomplices, was acquainted with the victim.
The third man, a 39-year-old from Niigata Prefecture who committed suicide in June, is suspected of being the main culprit, but his death made it difficult to shed light on the motive for the attack on the nurse and other details of the case.
“It was an indiscriminate crime targeting a woman who had no association with the defendant, and it created great anxiety in society,” said presiding Judge Naoyuki Yamada in handing down the ruling.
“The physical and psychological pain the victim suffered was extremely serious. The defendant played a crucial role of driving the car, and there is no room for leniency in his motive to gain money,” Yamada said.
Ito became acquainted with Suzuki, 43, from Nagoya and the third man through a post on an internet message board about “profitable” work, and they met in person for the first time on the day of the attack.
The accused forced his way into Uchiyama’s car and mainly drove the vehicle, according to the ruling.
Ito said during his trial that the third man was making phone calls, saying he needed to talk to his “client,” indicating there may have been others involved in the case. He also told the court he thought the abduction was aimed at taking money from Uchiyama.
Prosecutors had sought a seven-year jail term for Ito, but the court judged it was too heavy when compared with punishments for similar cases and gave Ito a shorter term, saying he “willingly confessed to the crime and has shown remorse.”
Ito was arrested on June 8 on suspicion of illegally confining Uchiyama, while he was being questioned by Tokyo police over a separate case. Suzuki, who was arrested on June 11 over the case, is on trial on charges including the disposal of Uchiyama’s body.
Ito and Suzuki had been served arrest warrants for murder as well, but the charge was later dropped.